Costume Quest Review

By Moye Ishimoto - Posted Oct 20, 2010

Costume Quest is the ideal downloadable game. It's simple, fun, hilarious, and full of charm. Exploring Wren's world was never boring, and the creativity on display by the folks at Double Fine can be seen in full force, both in the writing and animation.

The Pros
  • Inventive setting, cute characters and story
  • Humorous dialogue
  • It's Halloween!
The Cons
  • Repetitive Gameplay
  • Not very challenging

Halloween comes but once a year. But don’t you sometimes wish you could revert to being a child and celebrate the ghostly holiday for as long as you wanted? Double Fine allows you to do just that in their new downloadable adventure-RPG, Costume Quest where gamers play as a brave and imaginative girl or boy who must rescue his or her twin sibling from candy-stealing goblins and save their town from the ultimate Halloween villain.

With just the right combination of wit and an imagination, Costume Quest provides the perfect way for players of any age to enjoy Halloween. Characters look adorably hand-drawn, and you’ll wander around colorful environments that range from the local neighborhood to a suburban mall, creating a setting that fits anyone’s ideal Halloween (i.e. a windy fall evening where neighborhood kids congregate on the streets to Trick-or-Treat their way into a sugary heaven).

 


 


Players assume the role of Wren, or her twin brother, Reynold. I picked Wren, who mocks Reynold for his lackluster costume as a candy corn. The joke’s on Wren, however, as Reynold’s costume turns out to be real enough that goblins kidnap the young boy, believing him to be an actual giant piece of candy. As Wren travels around the neighborhood to find her brother, she learns that the town is being ransacked by goblins intent on stealing all the Halloween candy as part of an evil plan masterminded by the witch, Dorsilla of Repugia. Accompanied by precocious friends, Wren must explore the town, battle goblins and find Dorsilla in order to rescue Reynold.

 


 


Trick-or-Treet, Smell My Feet

It feels like Costume Quest was created to introduce beginners to turn-based strategy RPGs, with its simple battle modes, kid-oriented instructions and simplistic quests. That doesn’t mean the game is any less fun, as being able to play through Double Fine’s imaginative settings, which were clearly influenced by Japanese anime, is an adventure in itself, even if the gameplay doesn’t really help my hoarder tendencies. As a 29 year old, I’m a little too old to be knocking on doors with an open bag on October 31, but Costume Quest allows me to fulfill my Trick-or-Treat dreams through Wren. Searching for hidden treats (which you can find by bashing mailboxes and trash cans), collecting materials to create new costumes (which in turn give you new battle powers), and earning cards to trade with other kids are just some of the ways that the game successfully adds a childlike charm to the adventure-RPG model.

The dialogue between Wren, her friends, and the goblins is hilarious, and helps create a quirky world where monsters are really just disgruntled 9-to-5 employees, children are smarter than their oblivious parents, and Halloween is full of real magic. Even better are the Combat Modes that pit Wren and her friends against evil goblins. In these battles, the children turn into the real superheroes they are dressed up as in a sequence that imitates those classic anime transformations, with the stylized fights themselves being simple enough that victory is always within reach.

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Time For A Coffin Break

The charms of Costume Quest are something to bear in mind when playing, as the game easily becomes repetitive—whether it’s making your way around to Trick-or-Treat or facing off goblins in Combat Mode. Each costume that Wren and her friends wear offers a unique weapon and power up mode, but aside from switching out different Battle Stamps, there’s no other way to vary your combat strategy. The mini quests between each level are essentially the same, from playing hide-and-seek with other kids or bobbing for apples.

The other annoyance I found was the lack of a map or clear save points. The Exploration Mode, where Wren and her friends investigate the neighborhood, goblin town, or mall, can become confusing, especially when you’re trying to complete the side quests to earn new costume materials or unlock hidden treasure chests. For example, one mission requires Wren to find a specific trading card for a friend, but once that card is discovered, finding that kid becomes a headache, because there’s no other way to track him down. The lack of a map means wandering around the mall until it’s either time to give up and move on or…keep circling the same area in the hopes of meeting that same boy again.

 


 
The auto-save mode is a frustrating feature. Not being able to save the game at will meant I had to play until reaching an unknown specified point so it would finally save. The pre-determined save points are at times far apart while other times close together, and there was no map to find out what area I could visit in order to trigger them. At times, it felt like I was playing Costume Quest while blind, with no idea of where I was going and when I could stop. Of course, if I had all the time in the world, I wouldn’t have any problems with the lack of automatic save points.

Costume Quest is the ideal downloadable game. It’s simple, fun, hilarious, and full of charm. Exploring Wren’s world was never boring, and the creativity on display by the folks at Double Fine can be seen in full force, both in the writing and animation. Costume Quest successfully brings a child’s imagination to life, creating a special Halloween spirit made for both kids and adults—especially for those who miss dressing up in non-slutty costumes, collecting candy from strangers, and believing that October 31 is a night when ghosts, goblins, and witches come alive.